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He’d never seen her cry before, and now he thought the hospital had made a dreadful mistake. “Baby, what’s wrong?” “I’m just so tired, and relieved, and tired, and sore, and happy, and tired.” She smiled, but the tears kept coming. “It’s a boy,” Robert said. “Had to be. Felt like a six-year-old, coming out.” He was exhausted as well, had hardly slept in three weeks, had hoped that her happiness would lift him up with her, only to fi nd himself now wanting to cry too. The nurse came in with a bundle of blankets. When Robert saw the pinkness of the ancient, wrinkled face, the tiny, pale, perfectly formed fi ngers, he hated his own feelings of relief. When he called in sick the next morning, Mitch got on the phone. “Did she have the baby?” Robert didn’t ask how he knew. “It’s a boy,” he said. “We named him Malcolm.” “Congratulations. Take Monday off , too. You owe me a cigar.” Mercy’s mother had made herself a bed on the living room sofa. The next two days were disconnected fragments: sleeping, trying to sleep,
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